The Golden Glow has both epitomized a sense of grandness and inspired a potential for greatness for close to 90 years. Built in 1924 by Bill & Lenora Golden, it captured the imagination and historically has inspired grander visions dedicated towards broadening its potential as a Shangri-la for dining, dancing, entertainment, and festivities - a veritable destination point worthy of taking the journey to.
In 1929 a second structure was built to function as a roller skating rink and dance hall; and in 1935 the Glow was issued Saginaw County's 5th liquor license, witnessing its third addition in 1939, which consisted of a large dance floor and stage to accommodate the growing entertainment & statewide concerts and dancers featured at the venue. Indeed, through the 1940s and 50s the facility drew thousands with polka dances and popular bands of the time like Little Jimmy Dickens and Nick & the Cornhuskers. The litany of top entertainers followed through the 1960s and onward, bringing in artists ranging from Chubby Checker, The Romantics, Bob Seger and Alice Cooper.
Rooted with historical ambiance, in 1979 the Glow was sold to Dan Whaley - the grandson of John & Alice Chiesi, who were one of the Tri-Cities most successful restaurateurs, operating theGable Gardens and later Chiesi's Fine Food until 1972, when they retired. During the 1980s, Dan began renovation on the facility, while also developing several properties as nightclubs and restaurants, including the Fordney Hotel, Old Town Saloon, Jaspers Riverfront Saloon, and Old City Hall, located in Bay City.
But in late September 2009, tragedy struck when the historic building was completely destroyed by an electrical fire. However, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Dan rebuilt the entire complex into a new state of the art facility, seating up to 800 people for major events and bridal receptions.
This past November, the crowning jewel in the divergent potential of this expansive facility was unveiled in the form of The Golden Glow Restaurant. Located at 2950 S. Graham Rd. in Saginaw, patrons can enjoy exceptional Modern American food entrees for lunch & dinner at eminently affordable prices Tuesday - Sunday from 11AM - 9 PM, with a Sunday Brunch menu that includes a Full Omelet Station and expansive Bloody Mary Bar.
With his son Garrett Whaley handling day-to-day management duties and a litany of Signature Chefs working the kitchen, the diverse and carefully prepared dining menus at the Glow add a fresh and flavorful complexity to its magic.
“Basically, we're trying to redefine The Golden Glow for a whole new generation that doesn't know that much about it,” explains Garrett. “Some people think we're only a Banquet facility, some know it as a music venue, but now we can brand ourselves as full-service restaurant focused upon quality and value.”
When asked about key objectives that helped shape the vision for this new rebirth of dining at The Golden Glow, Garrett points to experience. “We knew what worked and didn't work from a banquet facility standpoint from the old building, so when it came to designing the new building we understood what it needed. Dan developed Old City Hall, the Bay City restaurant, in the late 1980's. I think he's tried to create the same type of dining atmosphere here, something that's very nice, but that is inviting to everyone that's not too stuffy.”
“Being that the facility turned out so beautiful we knew the food service needed to be on the same level,” continues Garrett. “This is what made us set out for some of the top chefs in the area. The menu was a collaboration between them, and they bring different talents to the table.”
Garrett cites the most challenging component involved with launching the new Golden Glow centers around overcoming pre-conceived notions. “It's been a challenge getting people over the fact that its not the same Golden Glow,” he explains. “The old facility had a lot of history behind it, but its like comparing apples to oranges with what we are doing now with the new facility.”
Most popular menu items among patrons is difficult to cite, insofar as the menu is so well rounded and caters to so many divergent tastes. “If I had to narrow it down I would say our Perch Dinner or many different pasta dishes are some of the more popular items. Patrons also seem to love our homemade bread that is accompanied by three different types of butters, which is served with every dinner entrée.”
Appetizers vary from Pesto Bread with Olive Oil, Friend Calamari and Spinach Artichoke Dip to Stuffed Portabella mushrooms and Salmon Satay, which is served over a bed of cabbage salad accompanied by a Cusabi Sesame dressing.
Pasta dishes include traditional spaghetti, Fettucini Alfredo, Pasta Carbonara, Pasta Primavera, and Cajun Chicken with 6 oz. chicken breast grilled with Cajun spices and served on a bed of fettuccini sautéed in olive oil, garlic, spinach, onion and fresh tomatoes.
When it comes to Seafood, the Glow offers the finest detail to their aquatic offerings. Fresh Planked Whitefish is prepared on a cedar plank with spinach and tomatoes on top; while their Baked Salmon is prepared in butter and white wine topped with a sesame and cusabi sauce served on a bed of wild rice. The Fresh Lake Perch is lightly breaded deep-fried to a golden brown and served with fries or choice of potato and dinner salad. The Parmesan Crusted Tilapia is pan seared and then baked to a golden brown and served with a lemon garlic aioli sauce on a bed of wild rice.
My own favorite from the poultry offerings is the Chicken Marsala, which consists of a chicken breast lightly floured and sautéed with a Marsala wine and chicken stock with mushrooms; but the Artichoke Chicken runs a close second, sautéed with artichoke hearts and wild mushrooms in an olive oil, garlic and white wine sauce.
Steak offerings range from Ribeye to Filet, Sirloin and Steak Alfurno, which is a 12 oz. New York Strip charbroiled and baked with fresh mushrooms, garlic and onions, baked with mozzarella-provolone cheese.
As for pork the offerings range from Pork Scaloppini prepared with red onions and an apple brandy sauce, to tenderloin medallions that are floured and sautéed in a red wine sauce and served with wild rice.
If you want to make a resolution for the New Year that will offer tasteful surprises, satisfying service, and memorable experiences, be sure to check out The Golden Glow regularly for lunch, dinner, Take-Outs, and their ever-evolving daily specials.
To paraphrase the French writer Andre Gide: Their talent and potential is only in its infancy.
The Golden Glow is located at 2950 South Graham Road in Saginaw Charter Township. Phone 989-781-2120 for reservations or visit their website at www.goldenglow.com